When East Tennessee State closed its campus and told students to go home, the Bucs’ star running back chose to stay in Johnson City rather than head home to Powder Springs, Georgia.
The reason? He didn’t want to risk getting his 3-month-old brother sick.
“I felt like it would be more of a hazard to him for me to come back,” Holmes said. “I feel like it would be best to have as little people in the house as possible. I feel like that’s the whole point of this. If I can be up here and not have any risk of bringing something back home, that’s what I want to do. I was just looking out for my family.”
Holmes says not going through spring practice is a shock to his system.
“It’s definitely weird,” he said. “Football kind of gets you into a rhythm, a schedule, knowing what to expect. Of course it feels different not being able to not only do spring ball, but be on campus at all.’’
Holmes is coming off a remarkable sophomore season, one in which he rushed for 1,143 yards — the fourth-highest total in school history. Along the way, he had a 255-yard game against Mercer to break the ETSU single-game record.
Several of the offensive linemen who paved the way for Holmes are graduating, so he knows missing spring practice will be a blow to the team.
“It’s definitely going to affect us,” he said. “Spring ball is necessary. That’s why they have it. We’re just going to have to find ways to overcome that. All schools are going through it.
“Spring practice is a good time to evaluate ahead of the season. For our team being that young and not having that time, it kind of puts the coaches in a bind on who to evaluate because the next time we’ll all be together as a team is fall camp.”
ETSU’s strength and conditioning staff has put together workouts for the players to do at home.
“Some of the stuff we have to get creative, use some household things,” Holmes said. “I go on campus to the (Basler Center for Physical Activity) field and try to get some work in there.
“You definitely have to be creative. It’s definitely a different time in having to do this. You just have to make the best of it.”
You also have to be disciplined.
“It’s easy to stay at home and do nothing,” Holmes noted. “You don’t have anybody telling you what to do. It’s also easy to make excuses for yourself, saying ‘I don’t have this, I don’t have that.’
“It takes a lot of discipline to wake up and say, ‘I’m going to do something.’ Anything’s better than nothing. It really just shows how much you value the team and what you’re willing to put forward to help the team out.”
Without the time demands of spring practice, Holmes said he’s been able to spend more time on school work. The team isn’t scheduled to be together again until August.
“We’re still preparing for the season that’s ahead,” he said. “Nothing has been set in stone. I’m still preparing like come August we’ll be ready for camp and the season will come.
“Coach (Randy) Sanders’ favorite saying is, ‘So what? Now what?’ I’m pretty sure he’ll hold true to that. He knows it’s a difficult situation, but I know that he’ll find a way to overcome it.”